The all-party Thane Bandh effected on Thursday to protest against the state chief minister’s proclamation that all illegal buildings need to be demolished turned violent and property worth lakhs was damaged by rampaging activists.
But the real story is not political, it is humanitarian. Prithviraj Chavan made a grandiose statement that all illegal structures in the state would be demolished in the wake of the Mumbra tragedy.
According to the commissioner of the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation, there are 78,000 illegal structures in his jurisdiction alone. In the entire Thane district (which includes KDMC, Ulhasnagar, and Mira-Bhayander in addition to Thane), there are more than one lakh illegal structures. Imagine if all these buildings and structures were to be demolished. The state will end up with a humanitarian crisis on an unimaginable level.
The trouble really is a rent-seeking political and bureaucratic class that has held the reins of real estate development in their greedy hands and created a massive problem of illegal structures — whether legal or with regards to the physical structure of the edifice.
Builders have been taking advantage of the demand for affordable housing that has created a real estate boom. Is it any wonder that it was political parties that called for a bandh in Thane? These illegal structures are also used as a potential vote bank for the local politicians who are adept at bypassing laws to their advantage.
Therefore, what the CM should really concentrate on is creating an environment for cheap yet safe housing for the masses.